A few weeks ago, Congresswoman Maloney looked at the all male congressional panel on birth control and asked, "where are the women?" I want to ask Rush Limbaugh and those who applauded his tirade against Sandra Fluke: "where are the men?"
According to Rush,
"What does it say about the college co-ed [Sandra] Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps... "
If we follow Rush's "logic" women who are using birth control are whores, and the government that subsidizes the cost of birth control, is a pimp, what about the men who have sex with us? What are they, Rush? Why are they exempted from the slurs, name-calling and moral judgment?
I am also confused by the next part of Rush's rant in which he says "if we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch."
So, it is moral and fine and good to watch sex tapes, but moral depravity to determine when you want to start a family? Got it. Of course, there is also no moral calibration or insults directed at the men -- in Rush's age group -- whose Viagra is subsidized by our health insurance premiums.
I doubt that Rush's opinion on women and birth control resonates with the majority of Americans. Most of us living n the 21st century do not consider women who practice birth control to be prostitutes or sluts. And, certainly, this entire discussion regarding health insurance coverage for birth control has not been a political boon for the GOP. If anything, Republicans appear to be more at the fringe, and more the party of old white men.
But here is what does concern me. While most folks reject Rush's inane attack, the denigration of women's sexuality -- and not men's -- is commonplace.
It is striking to me how easy it is to be called a whore. How frequently that term gets hurled at women and girls, regardless of who we are -- a Georgetown law student, a nicely dressed professional ignoring a stranger's cat call, a victim of rape, or a young homeless girl forced into the sex trade.
Perhaps, at some point, that is the conversation we can have -- what it means to honor women's sexuality and personhood. Right now, that kind of discourse feels surprisingly far away.